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Michael Jackson's This Is It - Michael Jackson

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Genre: Pop - Dance Pop / Artist: Michael Jackson / CD / Audio CD released 2009-10-26 at Epic

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      01.11.2012 15:03
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      This Is It - a far from inspirational tribute to Michael preparing for his final unseen tour

      My wife (Sue) was among many that were interested in watching Michael Jackson's "This Is It" which was initially released on 28 October 2009 following the untimely demise of Michael on 25 June that year.

      My version is the single disc distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2010. There are many varying versions available in-store or online and currently available from the like of Amazon for £2.99 (Blu-ray) and £4.25 for the 2 disc collector's edition. In my case, the DVD was free as a reward that I collected from either cokezone or ipoints (now maximiles) and arrived within a week of requesting it towards the end of 2010.

      The DVD was really for Sue as she was very much in to his music despite everything that had happened in the later part of Michael's personal life.

      "This Is It" is a behind the scenes look at Michael Jackson has he developed, created and then rehearsed for his sold-out concert series that was due to begin at London's O2 Arena on 13 July 2009.

      I sat with Sue to watch this film which to me was not as interesting as I had been led to believe from all the critical reviews and adverts that had appeared the previous year. The DVD shows Michael far from being near death or suggesting that he was in any way in a state of depression. It was produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and features behind the scenes footage of him rehearsing some of his songs. It captures him as the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and rather difficult to work with as he demanded perfection from all around him.

      The film does have its moments and there are snippets of his songs throughout including: Wanna Be Startin' Something, Speechless, Bad, They Don't Care About Us, The Way You Make Me Feel and I Just Can't Stop Loving You. It ends with "This Is It" as an instrumental with rehearsal snippets playing against the credits and Heal The World as a remixed dubbed version.

      At £2.99 for Blu-ray it is ok as a momento of Michael Jackson but I certainly wouldn't want to pay much more for it. Whether you find the full DVD as dull as I did is a matter of personal choice but there are odd moments of Michael at his greatest that even I liked. Still for nothing I haven't lost anything from owning it!.

      "This Is It" is rated PG and runs for 1 hour 47 minutes (approx.). In addition to the main feature it includes the following:
      2 Making-of Documentaries
      4 Featurettes - The Gloved One Costumes, Memories of Michael, Auditions - Searching for the World's Best Dancers and the Unfinished Rehearsals
      Theatrical Trailer

      Director: Kenny Ortega
      Executive Producers: John Branca, John McClain
      Producers: Brandy Phillips, Kenny Ortega, Paul Gongaware

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      16.02.2010 18:52
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      This Is It CD

      This is It can best be described now as a tribute to Michael Jackson who sadly passed away in 2009.

      This is It the album is described as "The Music that Inspired the Movie". The Movie in question is a documentary film about Michael which became the highest grossing documentary or concert movie ever (more than $252 million worldwide). This Is It was released to coincide with the theatrical release of Michael Jackson's This Is It, a concert film documenting Jackson's rehearsals for his "This Is It" concert series.

      The CD is great and even though I have all of the songs featured on it on various other Michael Jackson CD's I'm still glad I bought it as it's a really nice tribute and a well put together collection. There are two CD's in this collection and also a really nice mini hardbound book. The nook contains a list of all the songs featured on the album as well as lots of great glossy photos of Michael from the This is It documentary. It shows all his great costumes, images of him singing and all the stage designs.

      According to an article I read This Is It's sales has been certified Gold, Platinum, and 2x Platinum in multiple countries with an estimated sale of 5 million units worldwide. The album was the twelfth best selling album of 2009 in the United States. It was released worldwide on the 26th October 2009.

      Like I said there are two discs in this CD collection. The album features both previously released music and six previously unreleased recordings by Jackson. On the first disc there are original masters of Michael Jackson's hits in the order in which they appear in the movie. The second disc features previously unreleased versions of more Jackson hits. Track number 4 on the second disc is very interesting. It is a previously unheard spoken word poem entitled "Planet Earth which was written by Michael himself and like a lot of the lyrics of his songs, very though-provoking!

      The first disc features the song This is It, a new song written by Michael Jackson and Paul Anka which is all about love and a great final song from Michael in my opinion. There are two versions of this song on the album including an orchestra version. I love this album, it features all Michael's classic songs and some great new sounds that will keep any Jacko fan very entertained.

      The rest of the tracks on the CD are as follows:


      1. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"


      2. "Jam"


      3. "They Don't Care About Us"


      4. "Human Nature"


      5. "Smooth Criminal"


      6. "The Way You Make Me Feel"


      7. "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)


      8. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"


      9. "Thriller"


      10. "Beat It"


      11. "Black or White"


      12. "Earth Song"


      13. "Billie Jean"

      14. "Man in the Mirror"


      15. "This Is It" (album version)


      16. "This Is It" (orchestra version)


      Disc two
      1. "She's Out of My Life"


      2. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"


      3. "Beat It"


      4. "Planet Earth" (poem)

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        03.01.2010 12:12
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        An excellent Christmas present from my daughter!

        Like many on this site, the death of Michael Jackson was a real jolt to the system. He was a huge musical influence during my teenage years, and although he had occupied less of my time since then, he was always there in the background, ready to revisit and re-enjoy. I had thought long and hard about going to see him at the O2, and had eventually decided to leave seeing him on the Bad tour as my sole memory of witnessing him live.

        Having said that, I did not rush out to buy this album, as I already had all the songs on it (with the exception of the title track), and indeed I had not even got round to seeing the film. So when it arrived in my Christmas presents, courtesy of my eleven year old daughter's decision-making, I was not quite sure how to react.

        However one long car journey later, I was mighty glad she had coerced my wife into buying it! What I find fascinating is that it serves as a window into Michael Jackson's thinking with regard to what he was going to perform in his last ever concerts. He would have started with a guaranteed crowd pleaser in 'Wanna Be Starting Somethin'. then followed it with a less well known but equally dancable song in 'Jam'. Time for everybody to sing along to 'They Don't Care about Us', before the more reflective 'Human Nature' to give everyone the chance to catch their breath! Then it's back on your feet for 'Smooth Criminal', 'The Way you Make Me Feel', and 'Shake your Body (down to the ground)', before letting us calm down again with 'I just can't stop loving you'.

        Now we are nearing the end of the set, and MJ has saved the best until last, with 'Thriller', 'Beat It', and 'Billie Jean' guaranteed the raise the roof of the O2, and 'Black or White' not far behind in popularity. 'Earth Song' and 'Man in the Mirror' would have given him the chance to reach out to our conscience, and probably my only criticism would have been that presumably he would have finished with 'This is It', a reasonable effort, but surely not worthy of ending the last shows that this guy was ever going to play!

        Of course many would quibble that these are not the best songs MJ ever recorded - if I were picking what I liked best from the 'Thriller' album, for instance, I would never include 'Human Nature' ahead of 'PYT'. However if you look at the choices in the context of a live set which was supposed to reflect the great man's entire career as a solo artist, as well as bring us almost to meltdown before gently reviving us and allowing us to recuperate before the next stage, it is a pretty excellent mix. Indeed I am pretty sure that as soon as the concerts had started, I would have been clamouring for a ticket! Sadly all we are left with is this album and the accompanying film as an insight into how it would have been, and for this reason alone I am very glad that I now own this CD.

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          26.12.2009 15:47
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          A lavishly produced set despite being a bit of a let down content-wise

          Perhaps it was me being a bit foolish, but when I saw that a CD was being released to coincide with the excellent concert film This Is It, I assumed that the CD would contain his performances from the film, so I was a bit bemused to see, upon closer inspection, that it is "the songs that inspired" the concert, and so what we get here are the same studio records (that we admittedly know and love), with Jackson's new song This Is It as a bonus track.

          Perhaps I am the only one who thought that the rehearsal footage of Jackson was excellent enough to warrant its own audio CD, but to me it showed that the man was on top form, and would have been a good money spinner in itself for people who couldn't be bothered to trundle to the cinema to see the film. I feel like they missed out on a huge marketing opportunity here, but this is still a fine CD for Jackson fans, even if it feels a bit more of a cash-in after closer inspection.

          The CD has the same track list that Jackson's film had, with all of his most prominent hits featuring, such as Smooth Criminal, Beat It, and Thriller. It's a very crowd-pleasing selection that also includes plenty of his lesser-known work such as Man in the Mirror and Human Nature. As for Jackson's new song? Well, it's pretty damn good and a fine addition to his catalogue; it's got a catchy tune and although not as flashy as his most memorable songs, is a nice ballad and a good way to end the album.

          Although I was disappointed that this wasn't the actual concert rehearsal recordings, I understand why they've done it this way: it plays safe and means that no Jackson fans are disappointed with the rough (but mostly excellent) quality of the rehearsals. Also, the CD set is very well presented, and includes both a 36-page booklet that has some great pictures, and a second CD that has a few demo tracks and a poem from Jackson.

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            21.11.2009 11:00
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            Highly recommended ... as is going to see "This Is It" at the cinema !!!

            ~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~

            As a teenager Michael Jackson was one of my favourite "pop singers". I had the album Bad on tape and my dad had most of the Jackson 5 albums in his record collection. I can remember receiving the 1987 Michael Jackson Calendar for Christmas and I was over the moon. Over the years my taste in music has changed but I have always remained a fan of Michael Jackson. When I heard the news that he had died I too was shocked and saddened ...

            A couple of weeks ago I bought a copy of Michael Jackson's "This Is It" (having been to the cinema the night before to see the concert movie that the album itself is based on). I have also been listening to the album whilst writing this review.

            I have never written a review of a music album before and, to be honest, was not entirely sure where to start !!! Many of you will be familiar with the music reviews written by XICripZ ... now there's a dude who (in my opinion) has a genuine talent when it comes to using words to capture the very essence of an artist or album. I could never describe this album as well as I know he could because I simply don't have his ear for music. I do, however, have a few ideas and my hope is that this review will ...

            1) Reveal some of my own thoughts about Michael Jackson
            2) Shed a little light on to the story behind the creation of the album itself
            3) Provide information about the tracks included on this album
            4) Allow me to share my initial feelings having just listened to "This Is It"

            ~~~ MICHAEL JACKSON ~~~

            "This Is It" is a collection of songs recorded by Michael Jackson between 1978 and 2009. I therefore feel that it is important to actually write a little about the life and work of Michael Jackson himself so that anyone reading this realises what the production team at Sony must have faced when selecting the actual material for the album.

            * Michael Joseph Jackson was born on 29th August 1958 and by the time he was just six years old had already become the lead singer of the Jackson 5. Alongside his brothers he experienced great success at a very early age with classics songs such as ABC and I Want You Back. It was this level of success which prepared him for a lifetime devoted to music.

            * In 1971 his career as a solo artist began but it was his 1982 album "Thriller" which made him an international superstar and despite being released almost 30 years ago it is still the best selling album of all time. It wasn't long before he gained the title "The King Of Pop". And, the King Of Pop delivered with a career which spanned over four decades and featured numerous number one singles, best selling albums and sell-out world tours.

            * Throughout this time Michael Jackson has entertained the world. His song and dance routines are legendary. His success as a recording artist has been phenomenal and he has won countless highly esteemed industry awards for his work. He has even been credited as being the artist who created the pop video !!! In addition to this we must also remember that Michael Jackson was more than just a singer ... he was also a songwriter, a poet, a dancer, a record producer, a choreographer, an actor, a businessman and a humanitarian.

            * He was also an artist who was rarely out of the news. His unique sense of fashion, the creation of "Neverland" and his relationships were often the focus of intense media attention and for every positive story written about him there were three negative ones ... it seemed that being both famous and successful came with a price. Whilst to millions of fans he remained the King Of Pop to many in the media he became known as "Wacko Jacko". His physical appearance was often the focus of intense media scrutiny as were his actions both in public and in private.

            * In recent years Michael Jackson has also been at the centre of much controversy too. Instead of reading about his music it was child sex abuse allegations and court cases that dominated the news. In 2005, however, he was tried and acquitted of these allegations. At this point, Michael Jackson could easily have retired and turned his back on the public spotlight but having spent his entire lifetime performing he wasn't going to disappoint the millions of loyal fans who had stuck by him during his darkest days.

            * So Michael Jackson continued doing what he did best ... and early in 2009 he made an announcement that had fans around the world reaching for their credit cards.

            ~~~ THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE RELEASE OF "THIS IS IT" ~~~

            >>> MARCH 5th 2009: At The O2 Arena in London Michael Jackson announced that he would be performing in a series of concerts entitled "This Is It" ... it was a title that lead fans to accept that they would be the final concerts in Jackson's career. Originally just 10 dates were announced. These dates sold out within minutes and the demand for tickets was so high that Jackson himself decided to increase the "This Is It" tour to 50 dates !

            >>> JUNE 25th 2009: An announcement was made that in Los Angeles, California Michael Jackson had suffered a cardiac arrest and had died.

            >>> JULY 7th 2009: At the Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Los Angeles, California a private family service was held followed by a public memorial service at the Staples Center (which was broadcast around the world and watched by an estimated one billion people). Amongst those who paid tribute were Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Queen Latifah and Mariah Carey. Jackson's brothers each wore a single white sparkling glove and Marlon Jackson said "Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone."

            >>> JULY 10th 2009: In Michael Jackson's hometown of Gary, Indiana 6,000 fans attended a musical tribute to their hero. The town's mayor, Rudy Clay, unveiled a special memorial and announced "This is where Michael learned to dance, where he learned to sing, where he learned to sacrifice."

            >>> AUGUST 11th 2009: A $60 million deal is approved in the US courts to allow Sony to use unseen footage and backstage material to release a concert movie chronicling Michael Jackson's rehearsals for his final tour "This Is It".

            >>> SEPTEMBER 3rd 2009: Michael Jackson's service and burial was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Glendale). In addition to his three children and other family members his first wife, Lisa Marie Presley, was also present. The funeral itself was a private one but was attended by a number of Jackson's closest friends from the music and entertainment industries. After the funeral Michael Jackson was interred in the Holly Terrace section of the Great Mausoleum.

            >>> SEPTEMBER 23rd 2009: Sony Music Entertainment announces that Michael Jackson's single "This Is It" will be released in addition to a two-disc album of the same title. The single itself was never released as it was decided to include this new song as part of the collection of songs that was chosen for the "This Is It" album.

            >>> OCTOBER 26th 2009: Michael Jackson's "This Is It" is officially released ...

            ~~~ THIS IS IT ~~~

            This Is It is a two-disc compilation album featuring songs that were written and recorded by Michael Jackson between 1978 and 2009.

            * DISC ONE is a collection of the original album recordings of some of Michael Jacksons greatest hits. The songs themselves are in the exact same order that they appear in the "This Is It" movie. In addition to the greatest hits, Disc One also features two versions of the song "This Is It". This is the title song of the album and is a song that up until now has never been released. There is an orchestra version of the song as well as the version which plays during the movies final sequence. The song is extremely moving because it features backing vocals by the very same singers who provided the backing vocals when Michael Jackson sung for the very first time ... his own brothers.

            * DISC TWO features never before released versions of three of Michael Jackson's classic hits (She's Out Of My Life, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and Beat It). It also features a recording of Michael Jackson reading a poem he wrote called "Planet Earth".

            As well as the two discs the album also has a 36 page commemorative booklet which contains exclusive photographs and images of Michael Jackson during his final ever rehearsal prior to his death. This booklet also contains a large fold out "This Is It" movie poster.

            ~~~ DETAILED TRACK LISTINGS ~~~

            >>> DISC ONE <<<

            1) Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' [6:03]
            2) Jam [5:39]
            3) They Don't Care About Us [4:46]
            4) Human Nature [4:06]
            5) Smooth Criminal [4:18]
            6) The Way You Make Me Feel [4:59]
            7) Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) [3.54]
            8) I Just Can't Stop Loving You [4:12]
            9) Thriller [5:58]
            10) Beat It [4:18]
            11) Black Or White [4:17]
            12) Earth Song [6.47]
            13) Billie Jean [4.55]
            14) Man In The Mirror [5.20]
            15) This Is It (album version) [3.38]
            16) This Is It (orchestra version) [4.55]

            >>> DISC TWO <<<

            1) She's Out Of My Life (demo version) [3:19]
            2) Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (demo version) [5.43]
            3) Beat It (demo version) [2.05]
            4) Planet Earth (poem) [3.15]

            ~~~ MY THOUGHTS & FEELINGS ~~~

            Watching the "This Is It" movie at the cinema was an extremely moving experience and Not only did I feel that it was a fantastic way of celebrating the life and work of Michael Jackson but it also gave me an insight into just how exciting and dynamic Michael Jackson still was as a performer ... despite being 50 years old. Whilst I felt saddened that the rehearsals were for a tour that will now never be performed I also felt happy that Michael Jackson was clearly doing the things he loved most (singing and dancing) right up to his death.

            As a companion to the movie the "This Is It" album is a solid collection of songs that clearly demonstrate what a talented and gifted performer Michael Jackson was. There are songs on this album which take me back to my early childhood to a time when I first became aware of music. There are also songs that take me back to my teenage years ... to memories of school discos and of watching Top Of The Pops. There are also songs I listened to as an adult and each one brings back a memory of Michael Jackson and how I remember him at the time that each song was in the charts. I think it is the combination of all these memories and experiences that made me realise what an amazing gift Michael Jackson had.

            I also feel that by including the song "This Is It" this album is a must have for all Michael Jackson fans. The song has never been released and appears on this album twice ... as both an orchestra version and as an album version. In a way it can be classed as Michael Jackson's latest single (and was actually due to be released as a single earlier in the year until a decision was made to release the album and movie instead). What makes the song "This Is It" even more poignant is the fact that it features backing vocals from Michael Jackson's brothers. Not only were his brothers with him when he started his singing career back in 1964 but they are also with him now to provide the hamonies that accompany his final song.

            * I DO, HOWEVER HAVE A FEW CRITICISMS ...

            Firstly, I feel that Michael Jackson's management team were a little too eager to release the "This Is It" footage and create both the movie and this album. The battle within the US Courts to secure the rights to release this footage were initiated shortly after Michael Jackson's death. Maybe if the production team behind "This Is It" had waited a little longer then this album would have been slightly better thought out ?

            The reason I say this is because despite this "This Is It" being publicised as a 2-CD album I feel that the second CD is tragically short. Whilst CD One contains 16 of Michael Jackson's greatest hits the second CD has just 3 music tracks and the poem. In my opinion with two CDs available "This Is It" could have easily contained so much more in terms of both content and in terms of fully celebrating the life and work of the performer.

            The tracks selected for this album were originally recorded between 1978 and 2009. However, I genuinely feel that a couple of tracks from the start of Michael Jackson's career should have been included too. Furthermore, despite the album containing 16 of Michael Jackson's greatest hits I feel that a couple of his iconic songs have also been sadly overlooked. Take the song "Bad" for example ... for me this was the song that launched both a new album and a new chapter in Michael Jackson's life. It was a song that for me brings back memories of the Eighties. It was also the song that made me want to go and spend my paper round money on a Michael Jackson album !!!

            It's not rocket science but with two CDs to fill a handful of early Jackson 5 songs and including hits as iconic as "Bad" would have added slightly more depth and variety to this album. None of this, however, takes away from the fact that "This Is It" is a fantastic album filled with a selection of classic hits. My only hope is that sometime in the future a "definitive" Greatest Hits album or collection is also released ... and one that includes songs from before 1978. However, if you are a fan of Jackson's music I thoroughly recommend this album ... as well as a trip to the cinema to see "This Is It" on the big screen.

            ~~~ FINAL THOUGHT ~~~

            I think for a final thought I will use a few words written by Michael Jackson himself. The following extract is taken from the poem "Planet Earth" which appears on Disc Two of "This Is It". Thanks for taking time to read this review ...

            Do you care, have you a part
            In the deepest emotions of my own heart
            Tender with breezes caressing and whole
            Alive with music, haunting my soul.
            Planet Earth, gentle and blue
            With all my heart, I love you

            ***********************************************************

            >>> MICHAEL JPOSEPH JACKSON <<<
            -- (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009) --
            >>> GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN <<<

            Thanks for reading :)

            >>> jedimastergray73 <<<

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              21.11.2009 08:36
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              Decent music, but poor presentation

              Whilst his life and death may have been clouded in controversy, there is no denying that Michael Jackson was one of the great musical artistes of the 20th Century. Recent times and troubles may have lessened his output lately, but his legacy is a great body of work that has entertained millions and inspired many of today's acts. Indeed, with his habit of spending millions of dollars on music videos, Michael Jackson led the way when it came to using MTV as an advertising tool.

              It may be a little too soon after his death for the release of the film "This Is It", but it's worth remembering that had he lived we'd have the real life version at this point. The cinematic release opens it up to more people than had tickets for the shows at the O2 and whilst we may only get to see the rehearsals rather than the full on show, it's a last opportunity to see Michael Jackson doing what he has always done best - put on one heck of a show.

              Naturally, with a film there is an accompanying soundtrack. Unfortunately, the 2 CD version of "This Is It" is not a soundtrack, but is subtitled "The Music That Inspired the Movie". This makes a huge difference and actually makes the whole album a hugely disappointing experience. The songs themselves are as great as you would expect from Michael Jackson, but the presentation is a triumph of marketing and doesn't really add to Jackson's legacy in any meaningful way, nor does it provide a true companion to the film version.

              Perhaps appropriately, the album opens with "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". This is a great high tempo pop tune with a funky bass beat that it wonderfully typical of much of Jackson's output. It bounces along wonderfully and it's the kind of song that gets your feet tapping. That said, at just over six minutes long and containing a number of repetitions of the chorus, it does get a little repetitive after a while, as there isn't a lot of variation in either the music or the lyrics.

              Next up is "Jam", which has never been one of my favourite Michael Jackson numbers. It's got a more modern sound than the 70s funk influence that many of his songs do. This has more of a hard beat to it and there's a clear rap influence here, making this more of a dance track than a funk or disco number. It could be this influence that made me enjoy it less than much of Jackson's music, as I was always a fan of disco, but not much of a rap fan. Again, here, the length and the lack of variation, apart from the rap break in the middle, does make it a little repetitive over a 5 and a half minute track.

              "They Don't Care About Us" is the first sign that this isn't a soundtrack album in the traditional sense, as it's got the same opening as the album version, which came as something of a disappointment. It's another song with a harder beat to it, but it's another decent pop song and the driving beat to it helps things along. Towards the end, it suddenly seems to turn into another song with a heavy guitar part, which wakes things up a little.

              Looking down the track list, "Human Nature" was the one song I couldn't immediately place, although on listening to it, it's certainly a track worthy of this collection. This is the first time that the tempo slows down a little and it's a lovely little pop ballad, which Jackson's gentle, soulful voice works beautifully with. There's a vocal part on the chorus I recall hearing remixed as part of a track not so long ago, so as well as being a lovely ballad, it shows Jackson's influence on other artists.

              Next up is "Smooth Criminal", a song I've always loved. It's another up tempo tune with a wonderfully driving and funky back beat and it's the perfect contrast to "Human Nature", showing both sides of Jackson's music. Indeed, this one proves how versatile Jackson's voice was, as it's got a harsher vocal during the verses and a softer and much higher pitched vocal during the chorus. Everything that is best about Michael Jackson is in this song, both musically and vocally and it's the perfect introduction to his work.

              But it's back to the funky sound I also love for "The Way You Make Me Feel". It's got a slightly slower tempo than some of the earlier tracks, although not quite slow enough to be a ballad. It's a pop track with a lovely funky backbeat and once again showcases Jackson's vocals at their best.

              "Shake Your Body Down (To the Ground)" is a reminder that Michael Jackson was famous as the lead singer of The Jackson Five long before he was a megastar in his own right. It's another wonderful song that gets your feet moving, with a high tempo and a 1970s funk and disco sound. I always enjoyed the Jackson Five as much as I loved Michael Jackson's solo work, so I'm particularly pleased to find it's not been neglected on this album.

              Following this brief disco moment is a beautiful pop ballad. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" is the way a pop ballad should sound. Jackson's soulful vocal only makes it sound even more romantic and the expansion of sound from the verse into the chorus is beautifully done. There's a nice contrast between Jackson's quieter vocal and Siedah Garrett's slightly more powerful voice later on that makes this the definitive pop ballad.

              "Thriller" is perhaps one of the songs Michael Jackson will always be remembered for and the video was certainly a breakthrough moment and one that you can't forget once you've seen it. The song is indicative of the sound he made his own back in the 1980s, with a driving funky beat underlying a great pop vocal with the soulful touch that Jackson's voice always provided. Best of all, largely due to the funky backbeat, it's virtually impossible to listen to without wanting to get up and dance and there's a spooky voiceover towards the end that just adds an extra sinister touch. Although the song is also almost six minutes long, it never outstays its welcome.

              After "Thriller" comes another of Jackson's definitive hits in "Beat It". It's got a great guitar riff that sets the song about and which Jackson combines with a slightly louder and rougher vocal than his usual soulful sound. It's a great pop song with a slight funk rock influence and once again, you can't help but want to dance.

              Once again, the album version intro to "Black or White" is a reminder that this is only a companion album to the film and not a soundtrack album. That doesn't change the fact that this is another one of his great songs and was also one of his great videos. Mush like "Beat It", there's a very rocky guitar riff that drives the song along, but without losing the slightly funky influence. There's a rap break that breaks the song up a little and disrupts the flow a little, but it's soon back to the bouncy guitar riff and the song drives along very nicely.

              "Earth Song" is another track that I never really liked, but it was a huge hit and ran with a hugely expensive video, so you can see why it would be included here. It also combines well with the poem "Planet Earth" on the second disc. But despite the yearning vocal, this is a pop ballad that doesn't really go anywhere and takes too long about it. I've always felt that this is one of the few Michael Jackson tracks that could be described as a little dull, as it's a long track with little variation of pace and doesn't quite work as either a ballad. It's beautifully constructed, as you would expect from a Michael Jackson song, but it doesn't move me in any way.

              What a great contrast is provided with "Billie Jean" up next. The opening funky riff provides a statement of intent and this combined with the soulful influence in the vocals makes this the ideal pop song. Once again, this song is Jackson at his height in the 1980s and it's a wonderful tracks and one that again seems to exert some kind of mind control over your feet.

              "Man in the Mirror" is another song I've always loved and it's again the perfect pop ballad. Musically, it's perhaps not one of his best, being a little bland, but the vocals and lyrics really come to the fore and make this a great track. There's a slight roughness to the vocal in the verses, but the chorus smoothes this out and the contrast is again evident and the almost gospel style backing vocals late on only add to the beauty of the track.

              The first disc of two ends with the two versions of "This Is It", one orchestral version and one album version. I've never really seen the point of putting two versions of the same song next to each other on an album and can't help but think that maybe it would have been better to have started and finished the disc with the same song. That said, I suppose that with so many mp3 players capable of shuffling songs meaning that albums aren't always listened to in order any more, it matters less than it once did.

              Both songs are well crafted pop ballads, which work beautifully with Jackson's still impressive voice and a slightly funky backbeat. The orchestra does add a little to the song, so I can see why it was included, although for the majority of the song there is very little difference between the two versions. It's not quite as definitive a pop ballad as "The Way You Make Me Feel", but it's certainly a very good attempt and if this is to be the last new song from Michael Jackson, it's certainly a worthy way for him to finish, as it stands proudly alongside his life's work in terms of quality and sound.

              If the first disc is Michael Jackson's best from the studio, the second disc is a brief moment of curiosities. Given that the film version of "This Is It" is taken from rehearsal footage, for the first time on the album a few of the songs here provide an almost "rehearsal" feel, although from the recording studio rather than the stage.

              The disc starts with a version of "She's Out of My Life", a song which doesn't appear on too many of Jackson's compilation albums. This is a shame, as it's a beautiful pop ballad with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. Again, the stripped down music and Jackson's voice combine beautifully. Apart from the intro and a slight sound at the end, however, you'd never realise this was just a demo version, as the production values are very high.

              The same is true of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (demo)" which is a slightly stripped down version of the album version but is largely virtually indistinguishable from the version on the first disc, so high are the production values. It's still a great funk-pop song, but it would have been nice to have had some variation between discs. The song is good enough to have merited inclusion on the album, but this version isn't different enough from the original to have earned a place on this disc.

              The version of "Beat It" on show here certainly is different enough to merit inclusion. It's an a cappella version of the song, which certainly sounds like they're trying to get the vocal harmonies sorted ready for recording or performing. It's only a couple of minutes long, but it's very interesting and there's a great contrast between how unsure Jackson sounds when he's telling everyone else what they're about to be and the strength in his voice once he starts singing. It's certainly something worth having and for the first time this second disc seems worthwhile.

              The other track that helps give this disc a point is the poem "Planet Earth". It's a spoken word track, just being a poem, but it's got a haunting quality, helped by the echo on the track that sends a slight shiver down my mind. It's a little simplistic and some of the rhymes seem a little immature, but the heart behind the delivery of those words make it seem greater than it is and hearing this with a cinema's sound system behind it would be quite an experience, I feel. The attitude behind the poem would make this the perfect companion to "Earth Song", as the feeling behind both matches up well.

              Musically, there is nothing wrong with this album, as it showcases Michael Jackson's immense talent and the whole range of the musical styles he employed throughout his recording career from his early days with the Jackson Five through to his more recent hits. As listening experiences go, this is a great album, as can be said of so much of Michael Jackson's work. Unfortunately, the issue I have is with the marketing and packaging of the album, as it is far from definitive and, as I have already alluded to, it's far from being a soundtrack album to the film version of "This Is It". If this has been a set of recordings taken from the rehearsals for the show, as the film is, that would have made the album far more worthwhile.

              It's certainly very well presented, with a little hardback book containing the discs and a number of pictures which I presume would be stills taken from the film version, which acts a little like a concert programme as well as an inlay card. However, my issue with this is that none of the pictures have captions, so it's impossible to place them as part of the show without having seen the film.

              The other issue is that the musical selection itself is far from definitive. It misses some of his bigger hits such as "Bad" and, apart from the inclusion of "This Is It" and the curiosities on the second disc, it really offers nothing new that it not more readily available elsewhere. The other problem is with this second disc, which doesn't contain enough of interest to make it worth including, as with only 4 tracks and a 14 minute running time, with half the content sounding too much like studio work, it adds next to nothing in terms of content. There must have been more material that could have been added and, as a companion album to a film, even a trailer on a DVD disc as many albums seem to come with as a bonus disc these days instead of just a few pointless songs on another CD would have been better.

              The other issue is with the pricing, as another Michael Jackson "best of" style album priced at £11.98 from Amazon, or £9.49 at the Amazon Marketplace is far too much, even allowing for the one new song. It's interesting that such a new album should already be available for 99 pence on eBay, which suggests many who have purchased it are already thinking twice. This is one only for the most dedicated of Michael Jackson fans and those who don't have any of his music already. However, even then, every song on this album, with the exception of "This Is It", is already on the "Essential Michael Jackson" album, which is priced at the same £11.98 on Amazon and contains 38 tracks, showing what can be done with a double CD album with a little more thought.

              The music contained herein is certainly essential listening, but the album itself is far from an essential purchase. People looking to get into Michael Jackson should really spend their money more wisely on the "Essential Michael Jackson". Those who already have that album and are considering a purchase of this album purely for the new songs or for completist reasons would be far better simply downloading those few tracks that don't appear elsewhere. This is a decent enough album, but it showcases more how brilliant the record company's marketing people are than it does how wonderful Michael Jackson is. By all means, listen to the album, but don't waste your money.

              Comments

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              • More +
                06.11.2009 14:44
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                Buy it, Share it, Love it. Long live the King of Pop!

                This Is It. This is probably the last Michael Jackson album that I will ever buy! :(

                I am a HUGE Michael Jackson fan and I am still pretty shocked that he is gone! MJ was the 1st artist I listened to as a kid. I still remember listening to Black & White and The Earth Song really loud on cassette and annoying my Mum and Dad with my attempt at singing like Michael!

                I had tickets to see him this year at the O2 Arena in London and like thousands of others, I was so excited! Then on the 25th of June (Just a few weeks before I should have seen him live!) he died suddenly and everyone was so so shocked! R.I.P MJ!

                This CD was released just before the This Is It movie which showed exclusive footage of him rehearsing for the O2 gigs. (Which I have seen and loved, and will review later I hope!)

                Michael Jackson's This Is It is really a collection of his greatest hits and there isn't really a lot of new material on there. I still think it is a great album for any MJ fan and if you haven't got any of his albums, this is the one to get!

                The track listing is as follows...
                ------Disc 1------
                1, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
                2, Jam
                3, They Don't Care About Us
                4, Human Nature
                5, Smooth Criminal
                6, The Way You Make Me Feel
                7, Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)
                8, I Just Can't Stop Loving You
                9, Thriller
                10, Beat It
                11, Black Or White
                12, Earth Song
                13, Billie Jean
                14, Man In The Mirror
                15, This Is It
                16, This Is It (Orchestra Version)
                ------Disc 2------
                1, She's Out Of My Life (Demo)
                2, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Demo)
                3, Beat It (Demo)
                4, Planet Earth (Poem)

                Every single song is a hit!
                There's not really a lot I can say about these songs as I'm sure most people know most of them! Simply amazing.

                The only new song is This Is It and a lot of people don't like it, But I really do, it's very catchy and it somehow seems to fit in with his death.

                The CDs come in a cardboard book and inside there is a 36 page booklet containing some great "never seen before" photographs from the rehearsals. The pictures are all great and they really show how great the gigs would have been! I can't believe how good MJ looked!

                I personally can't fault this album at all! It is what it is, a great compilation of the greatest songs by the King of Pop Michael Jackson! A lot of people are moaning about this album saying it is ripping off the true Michael Jackson fans, but I'm a true fan and I chose to buy it! I don't feel ripped off in the slightest!

                Buy This Is It! Buy it and share it with you children, even if you haven't got any children yet, share it with them when you do! I think it would be such a shame if the genius of Michael Jackson is not passed on from generation to generation!

                1,000/10

                C

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              • Product Details

                Disc #1 Tracklisting
                1 Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
                2 Jam
                3 They Don't Care About Us
                4 Human Nature
                5 Smooth Criminal
                6 The Way You Make Me Feel
                7 Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)
                8 I Just Can't Stop Loving You
                9 Thriller
                10 Beat It
                11 Black Or White
                12 Earth Song
                13 Billie Jean
                14 Man In The Mirror
                15 This Is It
                16 This Is It (Orchestra Version)

                Disc #2 Tracklisting
                1 She\x{2019}s Out Of My Life (Demo)
                2 Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Demo)
                3 Beat It (Demo)
                4 Planet Earth (Poem)